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4 Posts authored by: tjatkin

On May 17, we will host a “follow-the-sun” series of webinars focused on accessibility in education at all levels and across the globe.


The 9 webinar sessions (8 in English, 1 in Spanish) span five different time zones in 24 hours.  Our roster of expert speakers includes educators, policy makers, and advocates. We are excited about this year’s stellar lineup of speakers which include:

  • Paul Harpur, Senior Lecturer at The University of Queensland, will tell his story as he reflects on creating a better learning environment for all learners.
  • Heidi Pettyjohn and Dave Rathbun from the University of Cincinnati will share stories and strategies on providing tools and education through involvement on strategic eLearning and university initiatives to understand how accessibility fits into the work that they do.
  • Brett Christie will discuss outcomes of California State University Universal Design for Learning efforts, which began in 2005. At the core of this effort is professional development that provides faculty and staff the support and training necessary to ensure that students with disabilities are provided a high quality postsecondary education.
  • Ben Brown  and Tracy Sangster from the Davidson Institute, a K12 school for the profoundly gifted, will talk about designing courses that are flexible and emphasize the students’ preference in learning.


Click here to view complete list and register.

Since 2012, GAAD has aimed to get everyone thinking, sharing best practices and learning about digital access and people with different disabilities. I’m proud of Blackboard’s efforts to contribute to this important focus in our education community.


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Who is Blackboard?

Posted by tjatkin Nov 15, 2017

In recognition of Blackboard’s 20th anniversary this year, we launched the #IamBlackboard campaign, featuring stories and insights from Blackboard clients and employees around the globe. So, I thought I’d share my story.


I joined Blackboard in June 2016. I’m a Coast Guard veteran, a former faculty member, a former political appointee, have over 16 years experience leading the full range of IT services and responding to client needs, and #IamBlackboard.


As Blackboard’s Chief Client Officer, I’m motivated every day by 3 driving forces:


  • The power and importance of education in defining individuals and their future. I was the youngest of 5 children. My dad was a Navy pilot and we moved every 3 years. With each move, my parents picked where we would live based on what schools we would be attending. Education was the top priority (sometimes leaving dad with terrible commutes to work!). I learned from my parents, and have witnessed first hand, how the power of education can transform and shape lives.
  • The passion and commitment of Blackboard’s clients. Every faculty member, instructional designer, system administrator, CIO, provost and student or learner who I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with since joining Blackboard has demonstrated inspiring commitment to student success. Two weeks ago at the 15th Annual SLATE conference, I was energized by the sharing of experiences, lessons learned, and innovative ideas to leverage technology to drive better outcomes.
  • The Passion and commitment of the Blackboard team. My colleagues and our partners simply rock! I’m so proud to be part of such a hard-working team that cares so deeply about making a positive difference in education, for everyone involved. This fall we completed a thorough assessment and self-reflection of how we can improve the client experience. We have work to do to achieve the world class experience that our clients deserve, and we know it.  And we’re excited about the improvements we will make. I’ll share more in the coming weeks and months as we strive for continuous improvements.


In a nutshell, I’m lucky to have a job that enables me to be part of a community that’s improving lives, and the world we live in. #IamBlackboard.  Check out other #IamBlackboard stories here.


From 35,000 feet....

Posted by tjatkin Sep 27, 2017

As I’m writing this, I’m on a plane on my way from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles. 


I’m going to LA for a (belated) summer vacation.  Even though I’m not going for work, I’ll get to visit with my friend and fellow Blackboarder Karen Yoshino.  She’s a rock star and I’m excited to get to see her and catch up!


Because I’ve flown this airline before, I know I’ll be receiving an email with an online survey asking me about my experience.  I’ve completed their surveys in the past, and yet I’ve never seen or heard any feedback.  Did what I say matter? Did what I say influence anything about the ticketing process, notifications, boarding, the flight experience itself, how fast I get my luggage after I land?


Have you found yourself asking these questions after you’ve taken an online survey?  I, like many of you, take these surveys with faith that they’ll make a difference.


I mentioned in my blog post last week that I’d share the results of Blackboard’s annual Client Satisfaction survey.  In April 2017, over 2,000 clients participated in Blackboard’s annual Client Satisfaction survey.  Thank you for having faith. I want you to know your participation matters. These survey results help me – and everyone at Blackboard – to reflect, prioritize and plan . . . and to improve how we partner with you.


In conjunction with our research firm, we perform sophisticated statistical analyses to determine strategic areas of focus where we have room for improvement and areas that are most important to your overall satisfaction. We identified the following key areas of focus:

  • Product ease-of-use
  • Ease of integrating with other systems and tools
  • Ease of doing business with Blackboard
  • Proactive communications


We are paying close attention to your inputs, and we are laser focused on improvements in these areas.


Product ease-of-use
The design language we call Ultra has dramatically improved ease of use within Blackboard Collaborate and our newest mobile apps, and we are working diligently to drive faster continued adoption of Ultra design across all our products. We know there is always room to improve and we will continue to add features to our newest products, always while preserving the simplicity of the Ultra design.


Ease of integrating with other systems and tools
We’re addressing this priority in two important ways.  First, we’re working diligently to better integrate the end-user experience across Blackboard products. For example, the Blackboard app for mobile devices provides a seamless user experience across Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate. Additionally, we continue to work to improve both the ease and depth of integration of our products within your larger technology ecosystem. Examples of this work include our continuing expansion of REST APIs available through the Blackboard Developer Portal and our ongoing support for standards-based integration through our participation and leadership in the IMS Global community.  We pledge to continue to improve the ease and variety of integrations supported in Learn and our other platforms.


Ease of doing business with Blackboard
When it comes to "doing business with Blackboard," we are pursuing improvements across all facets of the Client Experience. We will soon be concluding a large internal system consolidation and upgrade that will allow us to streamline the quoting, contracting, and invoicing processes. We’ve expanded accessibility of resources in places like, the Community Site, and Behind the Blackboard. Between these and other improvements, such as the improved reach of our Client Success team, we will strive to be the best partner to you that we can be.


Proactive communication
At BbWorld this summer, we worked hard to create open forums for transparent and honest conversations about every aspect of our work. For those who were able to participate, we appreciate your candid insights.  The launch of the CCO blog is another step in our effort to support a two-way dialogue, to ensure we can understand your perspective and proactively share information.  We’re continuing to identify additional areas where we can improve our communications with you.


Beyond those key areas identified for improvement, the survey recognized improvements between 2016 and 2017 in a number of areas. We are pleased that clients are experiencing greater satisfaction overall, and seeing sharp improvements in:

  • Satisfaction in adoption of Blackboard products at your institution
  • The value of Blackboard events and networking opportunities with other Blackboard clients
  • Blackboard’s thought leadership within the education sector
  • Satisfaction with Blackboard Student Services
  • Scalability of Blackboard solutions
  • Depth of functionality of Blackboard solutions


At Blackboard, we are extremely proud of our nearly 3,000 professionals around the world, and we believe these improvements in the survey results reflect the hard work of our employees and teams over the past year. A few examples of our employees' work include the continuous delivery of improvements to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Learn SaaS, and a renewed focus on client programs such as User Groups, Catalyst Awards, Exemplary Course Program, Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series, Tech Previews, Cohorts, and this Community site.


We know the results are more than numbers. They represent the very real daily, weekly, and monthly impact we have on people around the world – the impact we have on you.  We want to continue to hear from you in our annual survey, and as importantly, throughout the year. I encourage you to continue the conversation here on the Community Site and via other forums.


In future blog posts, I will continue to share information about work we’re doing to improve our work in areas identified through the annual survey.


How do we listen to you?

Posted by tjatkin Sep 20, 2017

Several weeks ago, I sat in Blackboard's Curie conference room (named for Marie Curie, the famed researcher, double Nobel prize winner, and first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris) and listened to the results of our Client Satisfaction survey, an annual survey we conduct to better understand how we’re meeting our clients’ needs.  As I listened to the different data points – the highs, the lows, the trends, and the areas of focus - I thought of:


  • the Online Campus leader who emailed Bill Ballhaus and me with ideas of how we can improve our efforts to support his university;
  • the Associate Provost who sat next to me in a listening session at BbWorld, and shared her team’s concerns;
  • the Instructional Designer and the System Administrator (from different universities) who I talked with for 3 hours at the House of Blues party in New Orleans after BbWorld; I got to know them as caring, engaged and fun education professionals – and we never even “talked shop;”
  • the Professor Emeritus who reached out to me via email as she didn't know where to turn for help;
  • my neighbor who is a kindergarten assistant at a Blackboard client county system; and
  • my nephew who uses Blackboard in school.


I realized the survey results represent not just these individuals, but their teams, their colleagues, their peers, and their classmates. The survey results are more than numbers. They represent the very real daily, weekly, and monthly impact we have on people around the world – the impact we have on you.


The survey results help me, and everyone at Blackboard, to understand the individual stories, challenges, needs, and desires in a more holistic way. The survey results help us reflect, prioritize, and plan.


Previously, Blackboard had sporadically obtained client feedback via survey tools.  In 2015, we committed to an annual survey cycle across all of our clients to better inform our work.  Next week, I will share a summary of our annual Client Satisfaction survey taken in April, 2017.


When you read the survey summary, you'll likely see elements that reflect your experience with Blackboard. You'll also see that other people and institutions may have competing needs and desires. Keeping with our conviction about the importance of transparency as a cornerstone of partnership, we will be sharing these results because we believe it will strengthen our dialogue.


Stay tuned. And thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post in my role as Blackboard's Chief Client Officer. I look forward to our conversation.